Jane Eyre

Text B is taken from a Brownie Handbook. Immediately it is clear that the discourse
is aimed at girls of a relatively young age, as only young females are allowed to be
members of this organisation 1
. First published in 1968, we can gather that the text
is in alignment with the dominance model. Although this is a written text, the use
of direct address to the reader has given it a feel of speech. So the view that speech
differences are caused by women’s subservience in a patriarchal society, which came
to be widely promulgated by the linguist Robin Lakoff 2
, can have some relevance
here as it is clear that such features associated with this model are in fact present in this
text. Overall, despite certain stereotypical representations of gender throughout the
text, it is important to recognise the era in which this text was published which was
undoubtedly less inclusive than modern day society 3
The text incorporates lexical terms which are congruent with Robin Lakoff’s list of
female language features. Although such features were not proven empirically they
do reflect the construction of stereotypes and can be found in text B. The author
frequently uses pre-modifiers 4
to accentuate communication; the text describes how
boys are “much better” at throwing and Packs will be “very glad” to make up parcels.
During the 1970s it was considered by many linguists that powerless females needed
to compensate for this feeling by lexical exaggeration. This is further highlighted by the
fact that certain words 5
have been written in italics: “one” and “two”. This graphological
feature serves a phonological purpose in that it resembles the tone of speech typically
associated with the one employed by males directing females. Of course, Lakoff’s
statement about this feature wasn’t scientifically proven as with the above mentioned
pre-modifiers. But the author of the text is perhaps utilising these linguistic devices
in order to resemble typical...